Audi experts discussed corporate responsibility with all relevant stakeholder groups at the “Audi Stakeholder Forum 2012.” The participants considered aspects of sustainability at four different workshops, with a common focus on the changing shape of mobility. Guests from international companies, environmental protection and aid organizations, associations and academic institutes took part in the discussion.
Responsible action requires entering into dialogue with stakeholders and taking their interests seriously. That is why Audi launched a stakeholder management system in 2012, based on the AccountAbility 1000 (AA1000AS) standard. The Company holds regular discussions with all relevant stakeholders. At Neckarsulm, for instance, environmental discussions with the public have been held since 1993 and there have been neighborhood dialogues for more than a decade.
For the first Audi Stakeholder Forum, which took place at the Ingolstadt site in November 2012, Audi held discussions with over 60 stakeholder representatives. These representatives were drawn from environmental protection and civil society organizations, from local educational bodies and global aid organizations, from federations and universities, from Audi itself, and from other internationally operating companies.
In his keynote speech, Audi Board Member for Human Resources Thomas Sigi stressed: “Companies are a significant component of society. We have the opportunity and the obligation to make our society a better place. In all important decisions we strive for a balance between social responsibility, ecology and economics. We do this through an open dialogue with society, our employees and our stakeholders.”
Peter Tropschuh, Head of Corporate Responsibility, gave a detailed insight into Audi’s CR strategy during the forum. He explained how assuming responsibility has long been part of Audi’s self-perception. “Audi believes there is no inherent contradiction between economic stability, sporty mobility and responsibility,” emphasized Tropschuh. He explained how its focus is on gradually accomplishing the shift in production and mobility towards CO2 neutrality.
Audi had already sounded out the socially relevant groups regarding their expectations in an online survey and through expert interviews conducted before the event. Among the important findings were that the stakeholders viewed employee responsibility particularly positively at Audi, and rated the product subject area as the top priority. The participants discussed the findings and conclusions of this survey with the Audi experts Dagobert Achatz, Head of Environmental Protection in Ingolstadt, Stefanie Ulrich, Head of Personnel for the Neckarsulm site, Johann Gessler, Head of Powertrain Testing, and Peter Tropschuh, Head of Corporate Responsibility.
In the eyes of the stakeholders, carmakers should concern themselves with four issues in particular. The first of these was the changing shape of mobility. They were interested to find out how an all-encompassing technological concept for alternative energy sources and electric mobility might look, and where the limits of an automotive manufacturer lie. Regarding environmental protection at the sites, the central issue was whether water and CO2 are the principal ecological challenges in all regions. Other aspects included how the Company can inspire its employees to take up the cause of environmental protection and whether protecting biodiversity is among its tasks.
The third subject area concerned the role of social commitment in the employer-workforce relationship. The issue at stake is how to motivate employees to sign up to preventive health care opportunities and how volunteering can be promoted. A further issue was the following: What opportunities do employees have to use their specialist skills to the benefit of society?
The focus within the subject area of transparency and reporting was on the question of what role a major industrial enterprise should assume in society. The participants also discussed what it is reasonable to expect of a corporate responsibility report and what channels of communication are appropriate for stakeholders.
The findings and conclusions of the Audi Stakeholder Forum serve as the basis for future corporate decisions. In future, the discussions will be held on a regular basis, taking a variety of formats.